Food and faith are intertwined in many ways. In many religious holidays, food is at the center—a tradition that brings us together in celebration of our faith. But beyond sharing food with family and friends, it is a tenet of many faith traditions to help ensure everyone in our communities has enough to eat. Food pantries across the country work hard to support thousands of our neighbors facing hunger by providing them access to healthy and nutritious foods. We trust that our faith will help us provide for our neighbors in need; however, more must be done to increase food security so all members of our community can access the food they need to thrive. Unfortunately, the recent stalling of negotiations on federal government funding has delayed Congress’ consideration of the Farm Bill—our country’s most meaningful food and agriculture legislation. This holiday season, I urge lawmakers in Washington to tap into our shared values and strengthen government funding of food assistance programs by prioritizing Farm Bill legislation.
In 2022, More than 44 million people, including 13 million children, in the United States lived in food-insecure households–an increase of nearly 31% and 44% respectively from the previous year. Feeding America’s recent Map the Meal Gap study found that people experience food insecurity in all 3,143 counties and county equivalents as well as every congressional district in the U.S. In the face of these challenges, faith-based organizations, through our pantries and meal programs, have offered families and individuals facing hunger a place of refuge to receive support, encouragement and a renewed sense of dignity during hardship.
But faith-based institutions and houses of worship can’t do the work alone—lawmakers must remain committed partners in the effort to end hunger. The 2023 Farm Bill presents a critical opportunity to address hunger and poverty in our communities. By supporting and strengthening nutrition and agriculture programs, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), we can help more families put food on the table and prioritize equitable food access for all.
Food assistance programs like those in the farm bill are vital to neighbors facing hunger everywhere in the United States. TEFAP helps food banks and pantries keep shelves stocked with nutritious foods and supports our farming communities; SNAP helps families stretch their food budgets—particularly during this time of food price inflation—while they are facing tough times.
As people of faith, we have a mission to help our neighbors. We call on all lawmakers to pass a strong farm bill that can help put an end to hunger in our country and pave the way for a more equitable and compassionate society.
We encourage everyone visit www.feedingamerica.org to learn more about food insecurity in the United States and to contact your leaders in Congress TODAY and tell them to support food assistance programs this holiday season.